Having a better understanding regarding the spread and quality of Early Childhood Development (ECD) provisioning in the country will enable us to better understand ways in which it can be improved as well as enable a better allocation of resources to those who are most in need.
In November 2019, Nelson Mandela Foundation team members conducted site visits in the Mbizana Local Municipality with Impande South Africa (previously the National Action Group). Mbizana is a local municipality in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality of the Eastern Cape Province, one of the poorest regions in South Africa. During these site visits, we saw first-hand the reality of poverty in rural South Africa and the impact it has on children. ECD centres had very poor infrastructure, the ECD practitioners had little or no training, and learning materials were limited. We also witnessed the connection between access to food and access to ECD centres – for families who cannot afford to send lunch with their children, these families had to withhold sending their children to these centres entirely even though in some places school fees were as low as R20.
Following the site visit and aware of the importance of data, the Foundation commissioned Impande SA to map and profile all ECD centres in the Mbizana Local Municipality. The intention was that the data collated would enable the state and other stakeholders in the NGO and donor community to dispense resources that respond directly to the needs of children and ECD practitioners in the area. The project commenced in January 2020 and physical mapping of centres was concluded prior to the national lockdown.
Of the 248 ECD centres that were profiled in Mbizana:
· 59% of centres were brick and mortar buildings, 23% were mud structures and 13% were ‘shacks’.
· Access to basic utilities are inadequate, with 49% of centres operating without electricity, 45% using ‘Jojo’ water storage tanks, 19% relying on rivers for water, and another 19% on community standpipes.
· 59% of centres utilise pit latrines, 5% have Ventilated Improvement Pit (VIP) toilets and 22% have no toilets at all.
· Only 27% of centres were conditionally registered, and had access to government funding.
· Salaries of ECD practitioners are below the minimum wage, ranging between R407 per month and R682 per month.
· 20% of centres do not have a daily programme, almost 40% have no lesson plans and an alarming 56% do not have stories (books, story cards or print material) for infants and toddlers, while 46% have no stories for children above the age of two.
The findings of the mapping work are contained in the ‘Statistical Summary Report’ – there is also a 1-page summary of this that is available. For organisations, stakeholders and researchers interested in understanding more about the mapping process itself, information is contained in the ‘Profiling Process Report’.
While this project commenced prior to the launching of the Vangasali campaign, the data from this project did feed into Phase 1 of the campaign and provided a deep data dive which serves to enhance our understanding of the situation on the ground, and what is needed going forward in both Mbizana and other parts of the country.